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Breast Cancer Awareness: Breast Cancer Facts, Causes and Risk Factors

Breast Cancer Awareness: Breast Cancer Facts, Causes and Risk Factors

In the glandular tissue of the breast, breast cancer develops in the lining cells epithelium of the tubes (85%) or lobules (15%). The malignant development is initially contained inside the duct or lobule ("in situ"), where it often exhibits no signs or symptoms and has a low chance of spreading (metastasis).

These in situ (stage 0) tumours may develop over time and infect the breast tissue around them (invasive breast cancer), then disseminate to neighbouring lymph nodes (regional metastasis), or other bodily organs (distant metastasis). Widespread metastases are the cause of breast cancer deaths in women.

Treatment for breast cancer may be quite successful, especially if the illness is discovered early. To deal with microscopic cancer that has spread from the breast tumour through the blood, breast cancer is frequently treated with a combination of surgical removal, radiation treatment, and medication which can include hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, and/or targeted biological therapy. Such treatment can stop the growth and spread of cancer, saving lives in the process.

Causes of Breast Cancer:

According to physicians, breast cancer is brought on by certain breast cells that develop abnormally. These cells keep growing and dividing faster than healthy cells do, resulting in a mass or lump. Cells may move (metastasize) from your breast to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body.


Usually, breast cancer cells originate from milk production channels (invasive ductal carcinoma). Other cells or tissues inside the breast, such as the glandular tissue known as lobules, can potentially give rise to breast cancer (invasive lobular carcinoma).


The risk of developing breast cancer may be increased by hormonal, behavioural, and environmental variables, according to research. However, it is unclear why some patients with risk factors never get cancer while others with risk factors do. Breast cancer is probably caused by a complex interaction between your environment and genetic makeup.


Risk Factors for Breast Cancer:

Breast cancer is not a communicable or infectious disease. There are no known viral or bacterial infections connected to the formation of breast cancer, in contrast to several cancers that have infection-related origins, like human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and cervical cancer.


About fifty per cent of breast cancers develop only in women having no other known risk factors other than them being female and over the age of 40 years. Ageing, obesity, drinking too much alcohol, radiation exposure history, family history of breast cancer, reproductive history (like age at first pregnancy and age at first menstruation), smoking, and postmenopausal hormone treatment are some variables that raise the risk of breast cancer.


Nevertheless, even if all of the possibly controllable risk factors might be avoided, the chance of getting breast cancer would only be decreased by a maximum of 30%.


The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is being of the female gender. Men make up 1% of breast cancer cases. Men with breast cancer are treated using the same management strategies as women.


Although having a documented family history of the disease increases the chance of developing breast cancer, the majority of women who are diagnosed with the condition do not have any positive history of breast cancer. The absence of a documented family history doesn't at all automatically diminish a woman's risk.


The following behavioural decisions and associated measures have been shown to lower the risk of developing breast cancer - Long-term breastfeeding, regular exercise, weight management, abstinence from dangerous alcohol use, protection from cigarette smoke, abstinence from protracted hormone usage, and protection from excessive radiation exposure.


The most common "high penetrance" gene mutations are those in the BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB-2 genes, which significantly increase the chance of developing breast cancer. Women who are determined to have mutations in these important genes may want to think about risk-reduction measures like surgically removing both breasts. It should be carefully considered, taking into account all available options, and it should not be rushed because it only affects a very small proportion of women.

Dr Rajeev Agarwal
Cancer Care
Meet The Doctor
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